Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bringing Home the Baby

Some of us have brought home a new baby, and we know that intense new period of getting acquainted.

After all I've read and heard over the past few weeks, it came to me that creating a new character is like that getting-acquainted-with-baby period and requires a lot of devotion. The best part is that your new character shouldn't wake you up at night. But if he/she does--get to know them.

From author Rachel Vail, I learned that we should be listening to our characters as much as we should be listening to our own children or spouse etc. We've all experienced that magic that comes with the character-they eventually reveal their own agenda, temperament and idiosyncrasies--at least if we're listening to them.

At Deren's recommendation, I headed over to the Writeoncon.com and read through a panel discussion on voice. Several gems of advice we're given of which here are just a few.

Anica Rissi:Often it's not what makes the voice teen so much as what makes the voice so clearly NOT teen.
But if it's teen, it's all about the intensity of the moment. Teens don't have a ton of perspective on what's going to matter in 5 years, 5 minutes. It's all about NOW.
I don't mean to be condescending here. There's something amazing/wonderful about that, and I think one of the reason adults read YA is to reconnect to that intensity.

Anica Rissi:
Read and read and read and read is an important thing to do. But you should be telling the story that only you can tell, the way that only you know how to tell it.

Suzie Townsend:
If you know your character inside and out, your character's voice should overpower the voices of other things you've been reading.
For Emily:
Joanna Volpe:
WritingLeigh--ABSOLUTELY. Voice trumps all. Heck, if there were another angel book with a completely compelling, fresh, exquisite voice that we've never heard before, it certainly has a good chance at selling. Good writing is good writing.
Suzie Townsend:
Jessica, the voice needs to feel immediate and authentic no matter the tense. And of course the tense has to hold steady throughout the ms. If it jumps back and forth between past and present with no rhyme or reason then it's frustrating and in need of editing.

A couple of other tips are filling out questionnaires for your character. Yesterday afternoon on the back of a tandem bike coming down a canyon fast, thoughts about my character came to mind. "What would my character keep hidden in her drawer?" I knew immediately. That was the first time I could answer a question about her so quickly. This must mean I'm getting to know her a little bit better.

In conclusion, if your voice is not genuine, sincere, authentic, it is more than likely that you have not gotten to know your new baby. And just like a new baby, they require the effort, time, devotion and getting to know you period.